Friendship fuels the run

Illustration by Jim Carroll
Running brings all kinds together.
Illustration by Jim Carroll

The other day, while running, I reflected on the cartoon I drew for last week’s blog. The word “violent” came to mind, which struck me as strange because running is the least violent sport out there. I mean, running makes synchronized swimming look like Ultimate Fighting. The word “docile” comes to mind, if anything. It feels downright friendly in a surprising way, like a magical talking deer. Yes, that friendly. And because running by nature is more about achievement and less about competition (unlike the blood-thirsty sport of synchronized swimming), it makes it easier to root for each other no matter how much faster someone else might be.

One way to experience the unique friendliness of the running community is to go and join any one of the numerous NYC running clubs. These clubs foster fraternity through group runs and social events, and it’s where I found my marvelous marathon-training program: S.M.A.R.T. Run Project (what’s that sound, you ask? Oh, just me kissing ass).

For such the boring endeavor that running can be, it sure brings people together. I think its because running is so mundane that people have to find something to take their mind off what a self-induced hell this whole thing can be, and casual chitchat with a stranger can do just that.

I guess “camaraderie” is another word that comes to mind when describing the running community and nothing deepens that more than the shared goal of finishing a marathon. It draws a diverse group of people together and I’m intrigued by the backgrounds that make up my marathon-training program teammates. I feel like we’re all part of something bigger, like something out of a Cameron Crow movie (e.g. “Almost Famous,” “Jerry Maguire”), where underneath all our differences, we discover we’re all really the same — just individuals colliding at this one moment-in-time, trying to discover our true selves.

I imagine we would all give each other nicknames and right before the marathon, we’d face a collective dilemma (i.e. our coach getting unexpectedly ill) and be forced to coach ourselves which would lead to in-fighting that would only bring us closer together, establishing a life-long bond that would travel with each of us as we go our separate ways, all while “Tiny Dancer” played in the background. (Hey, Cameron I better not see a heart-warming movie about a group of strangers who over come their inner doubts through friendship while training for a marathon from you anytime soon.)

Which brings me back to my friends Cupcake and Carrot. It turns out that after the violent incident from last week, Cupcake sought counseling for his rage and Carrot, in turn, dropped the charges. They ended up becoming friends after seeing each other at a group run and they now play Frisbee every Sunday.

So, when it comes to describing the running community, “friendship,” in my opinion, is probably the best word for that.


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